Music Discussions

Smile

smile

Smile – Sidewalk Prophets

Main Point: Jesus can lead us to find joy even through the most difficult circumstances and situations.

Vital Info Before You Get Started: The following info should help you contextualize this very popular song so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.

  • IMPORTANT NOTE TO PARENTS: We at The Source for Youth Ministry believe that certain elements in our youth culture can serve as good discussion jump starters with students. At the same time, we would never hope to introduce teens to a negative influence that they haven’t already encountered. This balance is a delicate one. In our experience most teens, churched and unchurched, keep pretty current with music and music videos like this one. Thanks to YouTube, Spotify and more, the most popular music videos and songs are free to access only a click away. If you decide to use this, do so by catering it to fit your family’s needs.
  • When Dave Frey and Ben McDonald connected while leading worship as students when attending Anderson University in Indiana, it started a chain of events that would lead to the start of the Sidewalk Prophets.
  • An encounter with Will McGinnis from Audio Adrenaline gave them their first opportunity to sing for a massive crowd, and things have only grown from there.
  • Over the years they have released six albums with their newest coming out in 2020.
  • Even though the crowds they’ve performed for have grown, their hearts have continued to be reaching young people and letting them know they matter.

Introducing the Song – Say Something Like This: Smile is an upbeat, joyful reminder to hold onto the promises of God through all circumstances. In the same year, front man Dave Frey experienced the high of getting married and the low of a bus fire which caused the band to lose much of their expensive gear. This song is a reminder that we can go into any situation knowing God’s promises ring true.

The Music Video: The music video can be viewed for free at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15V2sXSJ8Co


Song Lyrics: Smile

Lost your way, lost your cool
Then you straight up lost your mind
Tried so hard to stay ahead
But you keep falling behind
Life is gonna pull you down
Make it hard to see
But a little change in your point of view
Could be just what you need

There’s always a reason to always choose joy
There’s something deeper that the world can’t destroy
Smile, when you think you can’t
Smile, get up and dance
Smile, there’s a bigger plan
The storm only lasts for a while
So smile

Happiness is wonderful
But it doesn’t stick around
Walkin’ on sunshine
Then here come the clouds
You can laugh or you can cry
When it all falls apart
But I believe the more you laugh
The more you heal the heart

There’s always a reason to always choose joy
There’s something deeper that the world can’t destroy
Smile, when you think you can’t
Smile, get up and dance
Smile, there’s a bigger plan
And you’ve got a reason
To smile, when you think you can’t
Smile, just clap your hands
Smile, there’s a bigger plan
You’ve got a reason to smile

There’s always a reason to always choose joy
There’s something deeper that the world can’t destroy
Smile, when you think you can’t
Smile, get up and dance
Smile, there’s a bigger plan
You’ve got a reason
To smile, when you think you can’t
Smile, just clap your hands
Smile, there’s a bigger plan
You’ve got a reason to smile

Get on and smile
You’ve got a reason to smile

Three Questions to Ask in the Car (with thoughts to dive deeper with your kids):

Q: Do you think being a Christian means you’re always supposed to be happy?
A: This can spark conversation about joy and the lie that being happy is the purpose of life. If you carefully navigate this question it could open up a door to a deeper conversation.

Q: What would you say to someone who asks you how to know God’s plan for their life?
A: Start with the focus off of them and on someone else, but start a conversation about their perspective on how to seek God and get His perspective.

Q: Do you think joy is a choice? Why is it so hard to choose?
A: Open up a conversation about joy and the challenges of turning our perspective to Jesus and away from our circumstances.

Where to Take It from Here: Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful!  (There is a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged – the next time it feels right, try out another song. Keep engaging them.

For Deeper Discussion:
(If your kids seem into diving in deeper and looking at what the Bible has to say on the subject, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)

Want help getting your teenager engaged in conversation? CLICK HERE for a helpful article from our “Parenting Help” page providing you with 3 Essentials to Talking with Today’s Teens.

Transition Statement – Say Something Like This:  The author of this song has said, “Over the past few years, we’ve been through some pretty awesome experiences, as well as some very terrifying ones… When you start to pay close attention, you begin to see that how you respond to these experiences is actually a choice. In the tough times, we can either wither away in fear and doubt, or we can go confidently into each new challenge knowing that when we hold on to Christ and His promises, there is always a reason to smile.” Let’s take some time and talk about what it means to choose joy through every circumstance.

Discussion Questions:

  1. ASK EVERYONE IN YOUR FAMILY: Give us your best real smile and your best fake smile. Let’s see if the rest of us can tell the difference between the real and the fake smiles.
  2. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: The song opens saying, “Lost your way, lost your cool, then you straight up lost your mind. Tried so hard to stay ahead, but you keep falling behind. Life is gonna pull you down, make it hard to see.” Let’s have some of us share a time when we felt the way that’s described in these lyrics.
  3. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What do you think the song means when it says, “But a little change in your point of view could be just what you need”?
  4. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What would you say to someone who tells you that being a Christian means you are happy all the time? What do you think the difference is between happiness and joy?
  5. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What do you think it means to “choose joy?” Do you agree that joy is a choice? Explain why you think the way you do.
  6. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What do you think is the significance of the line that says, “There’s something deeper that the world can’t destroy.” How does knowing Jesus and His promises help you navigate trials in your life?
  7. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What do you think the song means when it speaks of a “bigger plan.” Share a time when embracing that truth was hard for you.
  8. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What are some circumstances that you or others have faced that really challenged your faith and made choosing joy difficult?

Read the following passage:

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What do you think it means to consider something “pure joy”?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What kinds of trials does this verse address? Do you think any types of trials are exempt from the truth of this verse?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What do you think this verse means by perseverance? Why is that important when it comes to trials?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What do you suppose it means to let perseverance finish its work? What are some ways we keep that from happening?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Would you say spiritual maturity is the goal for your life? Explain why you think the way you do and share how this verse says we move toward maturity.
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Is God more interested in our comfort or in our transformation? Explain your thought process as you answer this question.
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: How does having an understanding of God’s promises help you consider trials to be pure joy?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Looking at this verse, what would you say to someone who asks if God wants us to be happy? Explain why you think the way you do.
  1. ASK ALL FAMILY MEMBERS: Share about a time when you found joy when you were facing challenging circumstances.

Wrap Up – Say Something Like This:  It’s easy to hear a song like this and think it’s saying that we should just smile through the hurt and the pain we experience and pretend it’s not really impacting us. Experience tells us that’s a very bad way to approach difficult circumstances. During our discussion we looked a little deeper and can see the song is challenging us to adopt a new perspective when we face trials in our lives. When we are able to recognize both God’s presence and His promises, it can help us see things differently. It doesn’t make the situation easy by any means, but we can find the strength and courage to press forward with joy as we know God is at work. Take a moment and pray for someone you know who is walking through a difficult time right now. 

(Pause and give them a quiet moment to mediated and pray silently.) 

As you consider your own life and the trials you have faced, are facing, or will face, how can you be a person who finds joy in the hardest of times? The only way we can do this is if we make a choice to know Jesus intimately and let Him have our hearts. Maybe you’ve made this decision before, but need to take a moment to reconnect with Him. Maybe you simply want to indicate your desire to be a person who can always choose joy. Take a moment and share your heart with Jesus. 

(Pause and give them a few moments to pray silently.) 

When our lives are rooted in God and His promises, we can find joy in the darkest of times. This is possibly the most difficult part of the Christian life – recognizing that hard times are coming and turning to God with a heart full of faith when they do. God’s goodness does not stop when we face trials. In fact, His goodness often increases as He gives us what we need to persevere. He loves you more than you could ever imagine. In this broken world, we will face trouble, but as Jesus tells us in John 16:33, we can take heart because Jesus has overcome this world. May we be people who cling to Him, get His perspective, and choose joy one day at a time.  

CLOSE IN PRAYER

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Rob Chagdes

Rob Chagdes is one of the pastors at Prairie Lakes Church in northern Iowa. In the years since he met Jesus as a sixteen year old, Rob has spent his life working to raise up the next generation to love God and invite others into His unending story. He spends most of his free time with his wife Leslie, their three amazing daughters, and their energetic dog Jedi. You can reach Rob at chagdeswrites@gmail.com

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